D.A. Abrams – 12th Annual Elite Business Leaders Conference Speaker

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D.A. Abrams is the Chief Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) Officer for the United States Tennis Association (USTA), a position he assumed in February 2012. There, he focuses on developing and innovating the USTA’s D&I initiatives on the national, regional, and grass-roots levels.

As a best-selling author and Certified Association Executive (CAE), Abrams utilizes a six-prong approach, while advocating D&I as one of the USTA’s core values. The Association continues to embrace the D&I Strategic Approach to diversifying tennis for the good of the sport, which Abrams launched six years ago. Currently, the USTA is operating under the third iteration of the “All Hands on Deck – Plan of Attack”. A major component of the plan is the “Cross Cultural Dexterity Training” program, which serves to uncover unconscious bias, increase understanding of the negative impact of exclusionary behavior, and the power of intentional inclusion. He also developed a company-wide scorecard to measure the achievements of the USTA’s D&I objectives, as well as identify “Areas of Opportunity.” In 2013, Abrams launched a company-wide internship program. The program was implemented to provide diverse college-age students the opportunity to live the USTA experience for eight weeks.

He is also responsible for overseeing and cultivating the USTA’s 7 Business Resource Groups (BRGs). Under his leadership, the USTA has made significant contributions to the business of the organization, including enhanced partner benefits and a greater parental leave policy for both mothers and fathers. Since his appointment as CDIO, the USTA has heightened its Supplier Diversity efforts, with year-end spend with diverse suppliers surpassing 16%; developed 7 D&I Engagement Guides supported by an Engaging Diverse Markets: An Application Toolkit.

Abrams oversees and operates the D&I training for all USTA Board of Directors, Council Chairs, Committee Chairs, C-Suite, USTA Staff, as well as the Presidents, Delegates and Executive Directors of all 17 USTA Sections. He serves as a member of the Diversity & Inclusion Committee, Hispanic Engagement Advisory Committee, and is chair of the D&I Advisory Group at the USTA. All serve to implement positive cultural change and address various areas of opportunity within the organization. In addition, Abrams is the chair of the USTA’s Accreditation Review Committee. External to the USTA, he is the chair of the Diversity & Inclusion Sports Consortium, and board treasurer of the National Association of Asian American Professionals.

Abrams has been involved professionally in tennis since 1989 and has worked with the USTA in various capacities since 1993. In 1997, he became the first African-American to serve as the executive director of a regional/sectional office, assuming the post for the USTA Missouri Valley Section. After returning to the national office in 2000, he was hired as the executive director of USTA Eastern in 2006, making him the first person ever to pilot two different USTA sections. In 2000, he was named one of Tennis Industry Magazine’s “Top 40 under 40” tennis executives. And in 2017, he was inducted into the USTA Middle States Section Hall of Fame.

Abrams has authored five books – “Certified Association Executive Exam: Strategies for Study & Success” (May 2013); “Diversity & Inclusion: The Big Six Formula for Success” (July 2013); New-School Leadership: Making a Difference in the 21st Century” (July 2014); “Association Management Excellence: Become an Expert by preparing for the CAE Exam” (October 2014); “The Inclusion Solution: My Big Six Formula for Success” (October 2016). In 2012, Sports Business Journal highlighted Abrams in their “Executive Transactions” section and Savoy Magazine featured him and the USTA in its “Corporate Diversity Matters” section. In addition, he’s been featured on the covers of Associations Now Magazine (July 2012) and Diversity Executive Magazine (August 2013).

At age 12, D.A. was introduced to tennis via the National Junior Tennis & Learning program operating at Mander Playground located in the North Philly section of Philadelphia, PA. The program served as a gateway to many life changing opportunities. He became a nationally ranked junior player, and played tennis at Millersville University in Pennsylvania where he earned his undergraduate degree in business administration, concentration – accounting (at no cost to his parents). Subsequently, Abrams earned a master’s degree from Metropolitan State University in Minneapolis, MN, and continues to learn by way of reading, writing, and travel.